2. The state duty to protect human rights

2.3 Actions taken

Protection of human rights in the business sphere in Danish legislation [page 12]

“Protection of human rights in the business sphere in Danish legislation General Danish law contributes to fulfilling Denmark’s duty under human rights treaties to which it is a  party against human rights abuses by private actors, including businesses. For example, the Danish parliamentary act prohibits differential treatment in the labour market from 1996 protecting against discrimination based on race, gender, skin colour, religion, political opinion, sexual orientation or national, social or ethnic origin. It is also an offense to refuse to serve a person on the same terms as others involved in commercial or non-profit company because of his/hers race, colour, national or ethnic origin, religion or sexual orientation. The Working Environment Act of 2005 and the Act on the Work of Young Persons from 2005 implement the EU Directive 94/33/EC from 1994 on the protection of young workers, and the 1956 Constitutional Act of Denmark covers freedom of association and assembly.

Similarly, the Danish Data Protection Act helps to uphold the right to respect for private life; the Working Environment Act contributes to protecting the right to a safe and healthy working environment, the act protects, among other things, individuals against adverse impacts on health due to environmental pollution from business sources and contributes to protecting the right to the highest attainable standard of health through regulating access to health services. Denmark’s Criminal Code protects the right to life and human rights against torture, slavery, while proscribing a range of activities connected with human trafficking, for example. The Criminal Code further provides that companies and company representatives can be punished under the Act while other criminal laws contain provisions in similar terms.”

2.4 Planned actions

Extraterritorial legislation [page 16]

“To further engage in the issue of extraterritorial legislation, the Danish Government has planned the following initiative:

At national level the Government will put together an inter-ministerial working group which will discuss the need for and feasibility of legislation with extraterritorial effect in areas of particular relevance … the group will examine the need for judicial prosecution of severe human rights impacts as recommended by the Danish Council for CSR.”

4. Access to remedy

4.1 UNGPs on access to remedy [page 19]

“As part of their duty to protect against business-related human rights abuse, States must take appropriate steps to ensure, through judicial, administrative, legislative or other appropriate means, that when such abuses occur within their territory and/or jurisdiction those affected have access to effective remedy (GP 25).

This includes providing effective and appropriate judicial and non-judicial grievance mechanisms, alongside judicial mechanisms, as part of a comprehensive Statebased system for the remedy of business-related human rights abuse.”

4.2 Recommendations from the Council for CSR on access to judicial and non-judicial remedy [page 20]

“In November 2010, the Council for CSR established a working group who would be able to work intensively on the recommendations for implementing remedy as described in the UN Protect, Respect, and Remedy-framework. The working group was composed by a representative from the Confederation of Danish Industry, the Danish Confederation of Trade Unions, the Danish 92 Group, the Danish Shipowners’ Association and the chair of the Council.

The working group followed closely the final work of the SRSG John Ruggie on the development of the Guiding Principles for the implementation of the Protect, Respect and Remedy framework as well as the work of the OECD Investment Committee on the revision of the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises.”

Recommendations on judicial remedy

“The Danish Council for CSR acknowledges that this is an extremely difficult issue that is best handled at an international level. The Council therefore recommended that the Danish Government works to find a solution to gross violations covered by the revised OECD guidelines at an international level (under the EU umbrella), for example via a UN agency.

In terms of legislation with extraterritorial effect, the Council recommended that the Danish government, in addition to the international work, consider introducing relevant national legislation for particularly gross violations. A balance should be established between, on the one hand, the need to prosecute particularly gross violations and maintain an overwhelming sense of justice, and, on the other, the possibilities of examinating violations in practice.

In addition to criminal law consequences, the Council recommended that the government consider the possibilities of civil law measures against companies committing gross human rights violations abroad, cf. UNGPs.”

4.3 Actions taken [page 20]

Access to judicial remedy 

“The provisions laid down in the Danish Administration of Justice Act (Consolidation Act 2012-10-24 No. 1008) form an essential and important part of the framework on access to judicial remedies in cases regarding human rights issues in business. Denmark keeps these provisions under constant review in order to fulfill international obligations and to ensure that the provisions are adequately applied.”